A welder from Cornwall is inspiring other young women to break "taboos" by going into professions typically dominated by men.
Becky Fairway from Redruth says "finding a female welder is a bit like finding a unicorn".
She has been working at Anevay Stoves, a wood-burning stove company based in Cardrew Industrial Estate, Redruth, for the past two years.
The 36-year-old says she always loved getting her hands dirty, and even when people doubted her decision to go into engineering - she knew she was meant to be behind the power tools.
Now, decades later, she says she has no doubt in her mind that she is in the right place and that when the visor goes down she “is in her zone.”
As a teenager, Becky was one of two dozen students on her welding course – the rest were all men.Now through her life and TikTok platform, she is on a mission to inspire other young women to try something different, saying “you will never know you like something until you try it”.She added: “I think everyone remembers when you’re at school in the last year and it's time for work experience and you have to choose what you think you want to do.“Well for mine they stuck me in an office for two weeks on the hottest days of the year and I knew I didn’t want to do it, ever again."It was then that she tried out a couple of different more physical job roles.
She said: "I just always liked doing stuff with my hands and as soon as I had a go at welding I just loved it."
Becky was partly inspired by her dad who was a welder, but being raised by her grandparents meant she also had to break through some common taboos.
She says they didn't think a physical job was appropriate for a young woman at the time, however after seeing how happy it makes her they now fully support her.
She said: “My nan wanted me to be a nurse or receptionist and when I came home covered in dirt she wasn’t my biggest supporter."“But now she’s just happy that I am happy. It was a different time but it’s getting easier for women now and the last time round when I trained, even more women were applying for [the course].”
Becky originally qualified when she was a teenager and worked as a welder for a number of companies in Cornwall, but took some time away from it when she fell pregnant with her son Logan, who is now seven. Becky has raised Logan alone. She secured her current job when he was still young.
When he was four I went back to refresh my skills after a break. I thought 'I’m a mum now' and I wanted to be doing something I enjoy and support my family, so I got back into welding.
In the early 2000s during her training there was only one other woman working on site with Becky and no other female welders.
Today she is joined by an apprentice female welder at Avevay Stoves.Between her and another welder colleague, Rob, they say they have only ever come across a handful of female welders in Cornwall, but that they are certainly on the rise.Becky says: "It’s always going to be taboo for a woman to do this. Finding a female welder is a bit like finding a unicorn."It’s definitely getting better but it’s even the same for a man in some industries at the end of the day. I remember there was one male nursery teacher in my son’s nursery and even I was surprised by that.“You can use it to your advantage though, when I came here I remember the owners were quite surprised to see a women welder and I do think it can help in that way.“The truth is, I’m never going to be able to lift the amount a man can, I’m not built that way physically, but I’m not going to let it stop me from giving it a go."
Through TikTok videos and sharing her story she hopes that she can inspire anyone thinking about pursuing a similar career to "just go for it".
If there are any young girls reading the article and thinking of doing something different I would just say just go and do it.
“I’ve done loads of jobs through my life and worked at pretty much every factory on this estate and because of that, I know that you will never know you like something until you try it.“When I was 16 I felt under pressure to decide, decide, decide, and it’s worse now I think. Children are under so much pressure with exams and the added pressure of social media."I think you’re taking all this home with you now, it doesn’t end at the school gates anymore, but I think that’s even more reason to just give something new a go.”